You have probably seen or heard about the petition led by former Kambala school student Chanel Contos. It demands that consent be taught earlier in the sex education curriculum in schools around Australia. Currently, the average age at which students start learning about sexual health and education is 15 to 16 years.
Through polls conducted on her Instagram platform, Chanel discovered thousands of girls who have been sexually assault or harassed before this age. If ever there was evidence for prioritising inclusive, informative and relevant education around sexual health and wellness at schools, this is it.
The system needs to change, and it needs to change soon.
Turn on the news today and stories about rape are pervasive and persistent. Girls and women constantly live in fear of sexual harassment and assault - a staggering 1 in 6 women in Australia and 1 in 25 men have experienced sexual assault. Erasing this rape culture requires early education. We cannot and dare not continue to foster an environment where a victim’s silence is encouraged while everyone looks the other way.
Rape is a systemic issue and it can be traced from high schools all the way to Canberra in Parliament House. It is time for the sex education curriculum in schools to be reformed as a matter of urgency.
It starts with understanding consent, which should be taught at a younger age.